Thursday, December 30, 2010

Black Bean Corn Soup

Beans and I have a serious love affair going on! We flirt dangerously with each other in all kinds of dishes and I give in to their delicious foodie seductions every time! Beans in ANY soup make my heart go aflutter and I was craving REAL hard for something to make next week's lunch menu super delicious. Boy, did I ever find it! The only down side is that this soup won't be making it until next week's lunch menu!

I always search the far reaches of the internet recipe unknown and give a lot of my finds a try.  A lot of them fail miserably but every once in a while I wander across something that makes a great base and builds up to be something spectacular! This time it was a black bean soup from the Eating Well food site. I could see it was pretty simple and I couldn't tell what potential it held by the ingredients it listed.  Well, the recipe itself was bland and lacked a lot of good rich flavor but I had to rescue it and boy was I glad that I did!

The original recipe was just some water and beans with plain old salsa. That wasn't doing it for me. I am a spicy lady. I needed more zest! I happened to have some chipotle-based salsa in the fridge and knew that the smokey flavors of the chipotle would pair nicely with the dark flavors of the black beans. Man was I right on! The only thing that it needed was a little underlying sweetness. Something to bring up the smokiness and brighten up the dish to it full potential. The lime was good...but there was still something missing. I had some yellow corn on hand for another recipe that I was making later that day and when I pureed that together with the black beans and soup well, it just about made my year. You guys WILL NOT be disappointed by this one for sure!


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
  • 1 heaping cup of thawed frozen yellow corn
  • 3 cups water
  • *1 beef bullion cube
  • *1 chicken bullion cube
  • 1/2 cup prepared salsa ( I used a chipotle based salsa)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
(*I found that by adding the chicken and beef bullion  to the mix it gave the soup a deep rich meaty flavor that really added another layer to the dish.) 


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add beans, water, salsa and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, add chicken and beef bullions and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in lime juice.
  2. Transfer half the soup to a blender, add the cup of corn, and puree (use caution when pureeing hot liquids). Stir the puree back into the saucepan. Serve garnished with sour cream, diced red peppers and cilantro, if desired.
I must have taste tasted it three times more while typing this. Enjoy! (I know I am...I only hope I can contain myself enough to have John taste this)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Auditory Miscalculations

It is not too often that I write about Asperger's simply because I don't want it to define me (and people make assumptions about who I am because of it), perhaps in that respect I am just trying to mask it for myself as a protection from everyone else's perceptions, but in saying that there are really amazing parts to having this be a part of me that a lot of people don't talk about. One of those things is my auditory processing or lack there of, which most of the time brings instant hilarity for John and I.

John: Did you take your vitamins yet?
Me: (What I heard: Do you want your vitamins Steph) No!
John: (brings me said vitamins)
Me: Why are you giving me these? I said I didn't want them!
John: Steph, I asked you if you had taken them yet... do you still want them?
Me: Oh. Well, Um....yes I will keep them!

The Senior population and I get along exceedingly well.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Other Other OTHER Secret

I have a little secret. It is a dark deep embarrassing little secret. I. LOVE. Cute. Things.

I don't know when the cute things started piling up or when our love affair got to be a cute little obsession but it did and I can't stop! Here are some my most favorite cute things (that I embarrassingly own).

I also make cute things out of felt...because you know, it is not enough to collect.

...which I will start posting on a daily basis because I think it is a good thing to share. Right? H

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Morning, Make it Marvelous!

Crisp Fall air slips in past the small holes in the screens on your open windows as the soft sunlight creeps up over the horizon seeping into your contently closed eyelids. Your body starts to stir feeling the sharp chill of early morning and everything inside of you starts to move and work until your eyelids slowly flutter open. You take your first conscious breath full of new day air and the message is sent: It is morning.

If you are like most people your throat gives a sort of pitiful raspy raw groan and your rigid body resists by forcefully slamming shut your tired eyeballs. It ends with your blankets being thrown violently over your head as you fully fight to re-realize, yes sleepy time is in fact over and a new work day has arrived. Joy.

We are tired, coffee has not been yet made or bought, and you have a full day of endless work looming over you like a black cloud. Maybe morning takes a bit if rethinking. A new way of looking at those first few brilliant golden rays of morning light. Perhaps, I am the only person on this giant blue glowing planet that feels any sort of positivity when my body blossoms to that woken state in the early morning hours. To that  I will say this: The positivity that I create for myself as soon as I wake up is immeasurable.

Instead of waking up and thinking about what I haven't done yet or how tired I am because I perhaps stayed up too late having drinks with friends or working I focus on the positive. I turn it around and think about what fun it was to catch up with people the night before or look st all I got done before today and ask myself "HOW can I keep this awesome thing going today? What can I accomplish today?". I answer myself and say: anything I can imagine and however I can do it. After all, I am here and that in itself is amazing.

The one thought that binds it all together is: One day at a time, one thing at a time. All we can do is do our best and keep on going.

After all, on this Monday, we are still human unless anyone wants to fess up to anything otherwise!

P.S. - Always have something to look forward to every day even if it is something silly like a small packet of Craisins you forgot about and are going to snack on. The little things are the best sometimes!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 18: "Big People" Jobs

As the sunlight filters into the old foggy old glass warehouse windows of my new office I am left wondering this: When I hear someone say "I finally got myself a big person job!"...what DOES that mean?

What constitutes a "real world" job versus a "fake world" job? All the jobs that I have ever had seemed quite real world to me and not some Super Mario World type gigs. I ask because I worked at Nordstrom for three months and a lot of people would tell me that it was just temporary until I could get my "real job". I finally landed myself a job as Customer Service Representative for a local business and all of a sudden I am in the real world. Here is why I think they are wrong.

Guidelines for a "Big Person" Job:
  • Dental/Medical Benefits
  • 401K
  • Are you working with people around your age or above?
I didn't know I was making a huge gap there. I am baffled, honestly because the job that I have only has one of those three things and it is not the ones that are going to get me into some sort of retirement or doctor's office. I mean, we are not flinging rubber bands at each other or chasing after each other on rolling chairs...but I don't think I have graduated into he adult working world yet.

What do you think?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 17: Feel Good Friday Music Playlist

1. Aberfeldy - Summer's Gone
2. The New Pornographers - Slow Decent (Into Alcoholism)
3. The Mae Shi - Smile On
4. OK Go! - Here It Goes Again
5. Architecture in Helsinki - Hold Music
6. Feist -1,2,3,4
7. Ingrid Michaelson - Be Ok
8. Fiery Furnaces - Tropical Iceland
9. Guster - Manifest Destiny
10. The Pogues - Sunny Side of the Street

Feel good Friday needs its own soundtrack and I promise that this will deliver some Feel Good Friday vibes right down to the beat of your soul! It is always nice to kick start a great weekend with some seriously uplifting tunes. After all, we did get through another week and that is an accomplishment in itself!

Enjoy and Happy Friday Everyone!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Day 16: How to Deal... or NOT.

Silly me, I guess I have wandered off the set path of this journal, now didn't I? It is always funny how you start something with a direct purpose and more often then not that purpose is long forgotten as it turns into something else entirely. The artistic process is a tricky funny thing. I suppose we can also call it going with the moment and growing with the project if we want to. I digress...because I am happy with it.

In the last week, while the stress of the weekend before caught up with me, this alarming repetitive pang hit my insides. I was restless, anxiety ridden, and not yet sure what this pang meant but it kept gnawing at me. It kept eating at my insides and making me feel like I wanted to burst into a plethora of emotions...and I did... inappropriately in the back stock room of my job on Saturday after a long hard day of fighting for sales and commission with another co-worker (the term "tag-team" eludes her I am afraid). At that moment I knew what it was telling me: Get out.... GET out... GET OUT!!!

Get out of what? Oh yeah, the job that I was in and doing really well at.

It is no secret that I work at Nordstrom in the hosiery department and for the most part I really think that the company is top notch with co-workers that are of the same caliber. I have honestly learned a lot about myself from working here and I have made some of the most enjoyable friends as text-book as that really sounds. I have also done exceedingly well in a VERY short amount of time. It is challenging to get on top and it is even more challenging to stay on top. That is what I love the most about the job. In saying all that, I have also sacrificed a lot of myself to make certain job goals and it has taken its toll on me little bit by little bit.

When I agreed to move out to Pennsylvania I always knew that I could go home to my family on the weekends if I needed to and because of the nature of my previous jobs as a teacher, I did for the past two years. I am sure by now, you have figured out that my family means a whole heck of a lot to me. When my heart was no longer attached to teaching, I had no where to go and so I signed up for retail until I could figure it out. Ultimately, this has meant the loss of my weekends, my time with my family, and time with John and our friends.

It has been tough but I have done it and well at that but, with recent events, I can't find any good reason to sacrifice that part of myself anymore when that part is more important that anything else I can do in this world. I can admit to myself that my scare with John has left with me permanently worried that my time with people is fleeting and that at any moment they can be taken away from me. We all want more time with those that we love but really I want a healthy life balance. I firmly believe that a healthy balance of the things that make you happy is the most important thing you can do for yourself.

So I guess I stand at a crossroads where there is nothing written on the signs going in every which direction. When I find that balance I know it will be much easier to read those signs and see which way I need to go.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 15: The Worst Thing

There are a lot of worst things in life. Some as simple as putting a brussel sprout in your mouth and some much much more complex because they involve the ones that you love the most. My worst thing so far was watching the man that I love more then anything in this world almost leave this world in an ER room this past weekend. It is tough for me to type this... so I am sorry if it gets a little jumbled. This was probably the only moment in my life where I actually preferred the brussel sprouts.

It started out with us having an awesome time watching his brother DJ at a fairly awesome place in Philly. Good music, a few good drinks (one bad drink...Rock and Rye), and quality time with his brother were all that we needed. We drove home super happy that we had this awesome night and were super stoked for a picnic we were having with our friends the next day. Nothing seemed out of the least to me. I am sure it was very different for John.

Things did a complete 180 when we got home. His chest started to really hurt, he couldn't breathe, and he wasn't making any sense with his words. He thought he was having a heart attack and I thought he was having a stroke. My world started to swirl around me in a panicked desperation. I couldn't really understand what he was trying to tell me no matter how hard I listened. I was frustrated. The sad thing was, that he was so sure he was making sense to me in his head but the words that were coming out of his mouth were all jumbled so I couldn't honestly understand didn't matter we got in the car and I literally drove 90 mph and hour to the hospital to get him there on time.

Everything happened so fast. The only thing that I fully remember is walking into the emergency room, looking at his lips turning blue, sweat pouring out of his body, and being told by several doctors to call his family immediately.

This should have been easy but John forgot his phone. I didn't have any of his family members numbers. 411 wasn't helping. I called my parents. I called Jen. It was a mess. I was a mess but Jen was on her way and my Mom finally found his father's apartment number. Everyone was on their way. I was still a mess crying hysterically outside the hospital because I just couldn't understand what happened in such a short amount of time to a super healthy person. It didn't make sense and it wasn't fair. I also didn't know what I would do without him.

Thank karma, god, the universe... whomever you want to thank, I mostly want to thank the kind words, support and concern of every single one of our friends because you all made us smile and keep up hope through everything. Two days in the hospital under some of the best care and John is now home and feeling just fine. Luckily it is something that is curable and most likely will not come back in the future. We really are lucky, we feel really lucky. Mostly, I am lucky that I got to take him back home.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Day 14: Non-Fiction Book

Every human being has little idiosyncrasies in their personality. Little things that make them just a little different then everyone else. All through out my life I have noticed that I too have had these little things that made me stand out from everyone else. The big difference was that, unlike other people, these little things were actually not so little. They were huge setbacks for me in learning how to deal with the world around me. I started to get curious in the recent year about what all of that could mean but it wasn't an easy road in finding the answer.

This was the 4th book in a series of books about Asperger's in women that I had read after a friend, a psychologist, had brought up that I may want to do some research in the direction of AS. I was floored when given the suggestion. I wasn't floored because I didn't think it was a possibility but I was taken aback because that possibility would put me on the Autism spectrum and that wasn't something I could wrap my squishy little brain around. Having worked with several kids with Autism it was hard to put me in the same category because for the most part I believe myself to be an independently functioning person in society. This book was the change around for me.

As Willey talked about herself I began to see myself in all of her own "flaws". From the child that liked to organize and prepare her toys rather then play with them to the adult who didn't feel like she fit into the puzzle that were her friends, it all began to settle in that this was my own missing puzzle piece to the mystery that has been myself for years. I even realized that like most people with AS I had a savant skill, a skill that was uncanny or a "gift". From the time I was about 5 years old I could listen and play music by ear. I can even go as far as teach myself a new instrument without knowing anything about it.

While I am still in the realization part of this new journey into myself I feel like I have become more of myself in the last year then in all 28 years of my life. It is sometimes exciting, sometimes frustrating, but mostly an uphill battle because 28 years of habits and learned cognitive coping strategies are hard to change. I do know that in the next year the me I am right now will be evolving into a better me and that is what keeps me trudging up this darn hill.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 13: Fiction Book

The whole story centers around Eddie, an 83 year old maintenance man at a small pier amusement park where he has worked and lived around most of his life. On his 83rd birthday Eddie is involved in a freak accident where one of his carts break free from a ride and fall perilously down to crush him as he with the last of his strength pushes a young child out of harm's way.

Eddie goes to this "heaven" and is confronted with deliberating his whole life up until his death. While he is on this after-death journey he has to meet with the five people that significantly affected his life whether he realized it at the time or not. Every person to the last brings Eddie back memories that show him great change in his life and how that one person shaped that change for the better or for the worst.

The book teaches us that no matter how small and insignificant, we as people, think we are, we somehow always play a significant role in other people's lives. Whether it is a chance meeting that is simply forgotten once it is over or a life long relationship that had time to grow and change over the years. We might think we are small human beings on the outside but on the inside there is always something greater then we can ever realize.

I want to believe myself that even though I am a small human being on this big planet that I have at least in some way changed one person's life for the better, no matter what it was (big or small) and no matter if I had realized it or not realized it at the time. This book gives me hope that I just might have or will before my own departing flight from this seemingly temporary destination.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 12: Super Powers

You walk into a room unaware, relaxed even. You have entered this room many times before but this time the hair on the back of your neck tingles just a little bit. You get a sudden chill that sends shivers up and down your back as your feet hit the cold hardwood floor. You shake your whole body to get rid of this sudden hyper-awareness but something is different. This familiar room you have entered is not right. Something besides you and a couple of furry friends is lurking within the confines of this normally safe haven.

Somehow, your head knows how to turn in JUST the right direction too the spot of unfamiliarity. You jump back, squeal, squeak, scream...whatever your natural reaction is because the culprit is sitting right there in the crack of the wall. Staring at you like a long lost villain back for revenge. Its many eyes taking note of your whole being smelling your fear and surprise. Your heart races, your instincts kick in but you are frozen in place as if this THING has the kryptonite that will take away your every super power you have to save yourself  and those around you from imminent doom.

Yes, we as mere human beings have the burden of super powers. Some call them sixth senses or intuitions. They may be as small as a keen sense of smell or as complex as super organization but each one of us holds a power that someone else may not have. We walk a lonely road that is only familiar to us.

I have a super power my friends. It is hard to talk about but I am ready for my secret to be heard. Mine my friends...although it is a heavy and perilous one, is the ability to find lurking bugs wherever I may be.

The only problem is that every bug seems to have some form of kryptonite and I am too weak to act upon this "gift" given to me. I am even ashamed to call myself super...because I always have to rely on my sidekick to do the super work. I am a coward who screams in the face of danger.

This is my super power. This is my curse.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 11: Recent Photo

For me, it was an unusual choice to single out a picture of me surrounded by a bunch of people instead of a portrait shot. Not that I am a solitary creature or even introverted in any way. Both of those things are farther from who I am as a person (ie. big mouthed, extroverted, excitable...I will spare you for now). Those people   are also not just some ordinary people. The truth is, because of these people, I am a better me when I am surrounded by them. That is really why I chose this picture.

My journey with them started almost three years ago when I graduated college and returned back home. The glory days of uni were long gone, the heavy pressure to find financial stability was upon me, and my social circle of friends had all but moved on because of the same reasons. I was in need of a revamp.

That is when I found (Oh it gets better then the name, I assure you.)

I came across the site in a conversation with a friend online who had witnessed a group of them at a weekend event. His exact wording was "Those people are awful, they ruin every event and they are the most obnoxious arrogant bastards I have ever come across!" My answer: "Great, where can I sign up!" You see, my friend was an extreme prude in every way and this only fueled an interest that had to be satiated in some form. With a hefty bet of me not being able to last a month with these yet to know "hethens" of the nerd internet world, I signed up with the hopes that I not only would last a month but many more then that.

Unfortunately for my still virgin friend, I managed to immediately fall nicely into the Baltimore/New York groups, fell in love with the man that created the site, and three years later after I have moved to Philadelphia and made so many wonderful friends here as well as been to Vegas, Myrtle Beach, and California with these amazing human beings welcoming me into their homes and hearts, I would have to say thank you to Matt. You have made me the luckiest girl alive and there is still hope for you if you would like to sign up.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 10: Old Photo (10+ yrs)

There are so many pictures I always think of from my childhood but this picture is always one of the many in the front of my mind whenever the subject is brought up. There is nothing special about this picture other then the obvious 80's undertones. In fact,  it was just a simple hot summer day in a family's private city yard. That is why I love it.

I like to look back on the simpler days when we were young, full of wonder at anything/everything, and had no responsibility.

There is nothing simpler then being 5 years old, wearing your awesome new 80's bathing suit, jellies, and strawberry heart sunglasses and playing in a kiddie pool with your little brother on lazy weekend summer day. A couple of water guns, a few big wheels, and you were set for an afternoon.

I always bring this picture up to my brother and to this day he still has the same reaction as I do: those were the days. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 9: A Photo That I Took

(Morris Arboretum - Chestnut Hill, PA)

The Morris Arboretum lies on the edges of Philadelphia and suburbia but the quite trails, serene views, and arabesque artist sculptures make you feel like you have stepped into a strange and wondrous far away place. Surrounded by grassy greens, colorful exotic flowers and an array of floral scents you find yourself immersed in a garden that is beautiful and captivating. Not at all reminiscent of the synthetic world that lies around its borders.

My favorite thing about photography in nature is that it forces you to take yourself and observe what is around you in a personal way, examining every little close detail about the natural world in front of you. Every petal holds some secret and ever plant leaf has a story to tell. Even something as simple as light against the pale petal of a blooming lily pad can spark a feeling between you and the lens that wants to captivate it.

Just like my strolls on the beach provoke feelings of thought and reflection nature photography connects me to the natural world and evokes a sense of inner calm and curiosity. I go out to reach my zen but come back with so much more.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 8: A Photo That Makes You Sad

Part of growing up is realizing that you want something and going for it. Sometimes that is easy and sometimes it is a lot harder then you thought it would be. Most of the time it involves the latter.

Two and a half years ago I found someone that made me happier then I have ever been in my life. I essentially found the missing other half of myself somewhere in the city of Philadelphia. Two years ago my other half asked me to move in with them and I felt complete. That was the easy part.

Growing older often involves moving away from something that you are comfortable with, that you love so very much, and that is hard for you to think about being without. Mine was my family, the beaches that I loved to visit, and the security of a home without real world worries. The family part was the hardest because my mother and my father are truly my best friends and I miss them every day that I don't get to talk with them, laugh with them, and see them. This has been the hardest part.

Before I left, as I had my inner suspicions that I wouldn't be back permanently,  I took a few photos of things that I wanted to remember about my home while I was away. While I knew I could always come back, I also knew that I would have to leave again. I wanted to have something permanent with me in my new home to remember the amazing things about my old home.

It seems silly but this photo is a close up of a plaque that is attached to a wooden wishing well my Uncle made us when we first moved to New Jersey 20+ years ago. Whenever I had to tell people how to get to my house or where my house was I would always reference the well because it was one of those things that not many people have. It also holds a lot of background in photos of accomplishments that my family has been through over the years: communions, graduations, holidays, and etc. It is very much a part of me as it is a part of my home which I miss so very much every day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 7: A Photo That Makes You Happy

As a former teacher, I have learned so many wonderful things from the beautiful children that I have taught and hold so many wonderful memories from the brief but meaningful moments we have shared together. If you are lucky in life you will experience some of these moments and memories yourself and if you are really lucky, like I feel I am, once in a while a child so special comes into your life that they change everything you thought you could ever know about anything.

Arianna is not a student of mine or a child that I have taught but something even more dear and special to me; She is my Goddaughter. A quirky, bright, imaginative, and energetic little person that has brought me so much laughter and knowledge in the 3.5 years she has been on this earth so far, I can't even fathom knowing another child or another person as amazing as she is.

I can't help but get wrapped up in her world of secret codes, imaginary friends, and colorful doodles. Everything is something to explore, an adventure, and a whirl of excitement. We have only known each other for a short time in our lives but I can't help but smile when I think about all the things we have yet to do, talk about, and learn about each other and I honestly can't wait to do them all.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 6: The Beach

(Venice Beach June 19th 2010 6:31pm)

When the sun goes down and all there is to hear are the faint pitter-pattering feet of sandpipers making their way across the sand with their tiny little chirps, searching for whatever little delicacies they can find beneath the cooling soft sand and when it is just you, the golden sun, and softly crashing waves from a tide that is temporarily retreating back out to sea, that is the best time for me to quiet my thoughts, breathe in the world around me, and take in some of nature's finest work.

I love the fine sand between my toes and how it gives and takes as I walk upon it, I love the little sprinkles of salty ocean water as the waves crash around me, and most of all I love the cooling ocean breeze tapping against my hot summer skin.

The beach holds me and I miss it every day amongst the beeping cars, thick polluted city air, and busy lifestyle of a place that never quiets down from chaos even for a second. 

I just hope it waits for me while I am gone.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 5: Favorite Quote

...because what else is there?

It is a simple quote and most definitely not one of any scholarly nature but it fits like a glove to the inner most workings of my personality. It is something that I feel a lot of people forget to do in times of great stress and worry and it is simple to do. We just have to let ourselves go. Living is about just letting ourselves live while loving the world and its people around us, letting it all make us laugh, and learning all we can from those moments, what we experience, and all the people that touch our lives in some way.

A lot of the time, because I have a undeniably high-maintenance personality, all I have to do is close my eyes and think of this quote when times are rough. I must, as a human being, make the most of every second on this planet. If I get caught up in all the silly stuff, the hard stuff, and the impossible stuff then I am never going to move forward.

Live, love, laugh... and let it all consume you because the answers will come from what you learn from the first three.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 4: Favorite Book

All throughout my life I have held dearly onto my love for the habit of daydreaming. Diving into a world that is real, unreal, and surreal all at the same time helped me cope with the every day stresses of a confusing world around me. It always kept me going in tough times as well as motivated my naturally creative personality. It is no wonder that one of my favorite books is from a well-loved science fiction series by Anne McCaffrey.

The PERN series, and yes this I admit to this being super nerdy, centers around a group of future people that have traveled from Earth to seek another planet to inhabit. They get stranded on this planet that they dub "PERN" and have to restart civilization from the bare minimum that the planet provides... and over the years with the help from some unlikely creatures, that resemble folklore dragons, and through the gift of song they do.

This part of the series is about a strong young lady named Menolly who is the apprentice to the Masterharper Petiron (aka musical genius) of her home. When Petiron passes on Menolly is told by her father to give up her love and natural talent for music and to do the woman's work she is expected to do. Menolly, in an act of defiance runs away from the only home she has ever known to persue her own dreams, not the dreams that others have carved out for her.

There is a lot of inspiring messages to this book but what really stayed with me was how easily I got caught up in this world of Menolly's, reading and fighting along with her to the very end. It was that one little thought: You have to stand up and fight for your dreams, the things you want, and what you know is right inside of you. As a young women, I really felt Anne McCaffrey, Menolly, and the PERN series gave me what I needed at that point in my life. It showed me how to continue to dream from page to page, it taught me how to not be afraid to stand up for myself, and it reinforced the strong person that I had within myself.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 3: Favorite TV Show

When I watched this show I was instantly taken by the fact that, unlike most of the shows during its time, it doesn't sugar coat or glance over any of the life choices made by any of the main characters. The ever present conflict between one of the main characters, Lindsay, and her reinvention of herself from superstar academia and all around model student to a grunge wearing teenager that hangs around with the freaks/slackers is not only relateable to each of us but engaging. We can all find a little part of Lindsay within ourselves. The disapproval from her parents, the pressure from her school to remain on top, and the need to be anything but who she is expected to be is the very heart of the teenager's struggle that we can all reach into and understand through our own adolescent experiences.

The reoccurring theme of trying to fit in somewhere unfamiliar was where I settled into my own with this series. I honestly and openly understood the need for Lindsay to reinvent herself as a teenager to try and find a different place then where she had always stood firmly on the ground. It is a little embarrassing to say, but there are absolutely no pictures of me from my early high school days and for many of the same reasons as the main character. My parents had a very worried disapproval of me going from a girl who was an extroverted person who hung out with the semi-popular crowd to a person who was now quietly foreign in her black clothes and "freak" friends. At the time I thought, like all teenage reinvention phases, it was worth the struggle if it meant me being someone else and having a definite place. I didn't know where I was going but, like Lindsay, I just wanted to go with the moment and forget myself in the novelty of the new ground I was standing on.

Like all the main characters, even though we are blindly striving for something else we always find that balance between who we want to be and who we are. The series slowly shows us that the path to this, like real life, is never ever remotely easy or worth it. Being who you are is the only thing that you can ever truly be.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 2: Favorite Movie

To be honest, it was a hard choice between "500 Days of Summer" and this movie which both have the same kind of plot premise and deeply thought out soundtrack that reinforces the main themes. In the end, my heart remained tied to the same state that held I guess it really wasn't a hard choice after all.

Garden State is a double meaning based off the nickname for New Jersey where the director (Zach Braff) grew up as well as the poem by Andrew Marvell "The Garden" [Such was that happy garden-state / While man there walked without a mate]. It is a deeply involved awkward story in which Braff  explains is about "love, for lack of a better term. And it's a movie about awakening. It's a movie about taking action. It's a movie about how life is short, go for it now. My character says, 'I'm 26 years old, and I've spent my whole life waiting for something else to start. Now I realize that this is all there is, and I'm going to try to live my life like that'".

Even the soundtrack itself points in the direction of a person that is just now taking a risk in awakening themselves and reacting to the world around them which causes them to really outwardly live for the first time:

"And if you'd 'a took to me like
A gull takes to the wind.
Well, i'd 'a jumped from my tree
And i'd a danced like the king of the eyesores
And the rest of our lives would 'a fared well. "
- The Shins - New Slang

I find that I am more engaged with the theme of love in this particular film because it is not perfect and depicts finding that one person is also like finding a piece of yourself that you never knew that you had.

There is a scene in the movie where the three main characters are standing in the middle of a rock quarry in the pouring rain. They are perched on top of a large yellow crane and drenched to the bone facing the top of the world. In an effort to relinquish Braff's character from his year's of unwilling numbing inner silence they all start screaming at the top of their lungs into the echoing depths of the bottomless quarry. This moment defines the main character's rebirth into the world. He is screaming as if to say "I am here world, I am here. Hear me". This is also the first time Braff's and Portman's characters let go of themselves together and embrace each other in a kiss.

The message that this is it my friends, nothing else, so start living life because life will not happen until you step out into it and love and let go of yourself for love to truly see yourself beyond yourself is a message I think we can all find our minds crawling in at some point during our lives.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 1: Favorite Song

I fell across this album while doing an internet search for another indie band (The New Pornographers) and at first dismissed it altogether. If anyone vaguely remembers them amidst the mid 90's grunge and pop-rock music scene you would have fled the album as I did because we all know how absolutely horrid their one hit 90's wonder "Popular" was. Re-forgetting it as I type this.

It just so happened, that day in particular, life really wanted me to rediscover this band because as I settled myself into a music mix made by Pandora, they immediately came up. This time around , I was listening. They, in a musical instant, grabbed my attention with their words and layered vocal melodies that came from a complex song with a simple message:

Too often in life we misunderstand each other and never stop to ask why. Instead, we "react and act on the wrong clues thinking there is time to re-do and re-do". We are only here in life for a fleeting moment in the grand scheme of things in body, so we have to make the most of what we do and say because in the end our mark is permanent as small as we think it will be.

Nada Surf - See These Bones 

Everyone's right and no one is sorry
That's the start and the end of this story
From the sharks and the jets
To the call in the morning

Everyone's right and no one is sorry
That's the start and the end of this story
From the sharks and the jets
To the call in the morning
And life is just bets anyway

Look alive, see these bones
What you are now, we were once

Try as they might, no one's immune to
Misfiring and acting on the wrong clues
And thinkin' there's time to redo and redo

I feel rain in the movies and the talk before the screen lights
I hear strings in the park
I don't like to call her right, except when its too late at night
I mostly just think in the dark

Look alive, see these bones
What you are now, we were once
Just like we are, you'll be dust
And just like we are, permanent

You were too tired to eat, too hungry to sleep
Just imagine the speed, it's just what you need

Look alive, see these bones
What you are now, we were once
And just like we are, you'll be dust
And just like we are, permanent

The lights in the city are more or less blinking
Which side of the story decides what you're thinking
Warm arms and cold faces
We're squinting, we're hurrying
We take inventory
We're digging, we're burying it

Do you remember when the light was low
Do you remember when it fell
Do you remember when you went to her house, remember ringing the bell

Look alive, see these bones
What you are now, we were once
Just like we are, you'll be dust
Just like we are, permanent

It is not easy for me to admit that in life I have felt a lot of times that I was the one who was reacting and acting on the wrong cues, that I wasn't able to understand the true meanings of what people were trying to tell me most of the time. They were the Sharks and I was the Jets and we were constantly battling each other because neither one wanted to stop to understand one another.

I realize now that my time here is so limited and if I let all the misunderstandings pile up then my mark on this tiny spinning mass of matter will not be one that can grow once I am gone. I have learned through this small self-revelation to now stop and ask, listen, and explain because learning to admit you are wrong or that you don't understand only makes you real. If no one is right and I am never sorry for the things that I say or do then I have stopped growing as a person and I just don't intend on my story ending there.

30 Day Challenge

What is life if not for its simple to complex challenges that bring us struggles, successes, and everything in between like thick gray matter hanging over our heads or lifting us from beneath our feet. I would be lying, or at the very least oblivious to my own being, if I said that life did not hand me any challenges this year. In an effort to further grow deeply into my own skin I want to, like my dear friends, open myself up to the world and submit myself to few challenges beginning with this small one. 

Like one little quiet thought can almost always do, I hope it grows into something wonderful.

  • Day 01 — Your favorite song
  • Day 02 — Your favorite movie
  • Day 03 — Your favorite television program
  • Day 04 — Your favorite book
  • Day 05 — Your favorite quote
  • Day 06 — Whatever tickles your fancy
  • Day 07 — A photo that makes you happy
  • Day 08 — A photo that makes you angry/sad
  • Day 09 — A photo you took
  • Day 10 — A photo of you taken over ten years ago
  • Day 11 — A photo of you taken recently
  • Day 12 — Whatever tickles your fancy
  • Day 13 — A fictional book
  • Day 14 — A non-fictional book
  • Day 15 — A fanfic
  • Day 16 — A song that makes you cry (or nearly)
  • Day 17 — An art piece (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.)
  • Day 18 — Whatever tickles your fancy
  • Day 19 — A talent of yours
  • Day 20 — A hobby of yours
  • Day 21 — A recipe
  • Day 22 — A website
  • Day 23 — A YouTube video
  • Day 24 — Whatever tickles your fancy
  • Day 25 — Your day, in great detail
  • Day 26 — Your week, in great detail
  • Day 27 — This month, in great detail
  • Day 28 — This year, in great detail
  • Day 29 — Hopes, dreams and plans for the next 365 days
  • Day 30 — Whatever tickles your fancy